Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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6 AUGUST 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED I t's time for Notre Dame to stop living in 1922. Or 1962. Or even 2002. Independence worked for Notre Dame football for quite some time, and it worked very well. But when USC and UCLA join the Big Ten, and Texas and Oklahoma join the SEC in the next few years, college football is going to look a whole lot different. And it's going to operate a whole lot differently, too. How so? Who knows. It's too early to tell, and the landscape is ever changing. But ask any Power Five coach what's going to happen next and they'll all give you the same — sometimes ominous, often perplex- ing and always curious — answer. "I don't know." What they do know is that ev- erything appears to be leading to drastic and dynamic alterations. The kind of changes — especially if they pertain to the College Football Playoff — that could finally push Notre Dame into a conference after nearly a century and a half of independence. Last summer, after UT and OU shocked the world by announcing their impending move to the SEC, Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick listed three key criteria that must be weighed above all else when deciding whether or not to join a con- ference: 1) access to the CFP; 2) a home for Notre Dame's Olympic sports; and 3) a TV partner. The Big Ten offers all three. For those who say, "But it isn't about the money for Notre Dame, so why would Swarbrick choose to join a con- ference?" I direct you to No. 3. A TV partner equals money. That's where it all comes from. And as it currently stands in the summer of 2022, the Big Ten will be able to offer much more of the green stuff when Notre Dame's cur- rent TV rights deal is over after the 2025 season than the Irish are currently mak- ing from NBC ($15 million) and as a par- tial member of the ACC ($10 million). There's a reason why a CBS Sports report in July indicated Notre Dame is asking NBC for $75 million for a deal that would start in 2026. It's because at that time, Big Ten member institutions will be making somewhere in the neigh- borhood of $80 million. Try to say it isn't about the money. You can't. It is. But put the money aside. Join- ing the Big Ten would pay dividends to Notre Dame in other ways. Remember when there was a rivalry with Michigan State? Remember when the Irish and Spartans played every fall? Remember when the margin of victory between those two was less than a touchdown in seven straight games from 2000 to 2007? It was fun. And we don't get that any- more. Sparty and the Golden Domers have matched up twice in the last nine seasons after playing almost every year for the better part of six decades. It's not that Notre Dame vs. Michi- gan State is must-watch TV for a college football fan. Or a must-see in-person game for fans of either school, for that matter. But it's a whole lot better than Notre Dame vs. Marshall. Or Notre Dame vs. California. Or Notre Dame vs. UNLV. Obviously, if the Irish joined the Big Ten they'd have to schedule three non-conference games. Ev- ery college football schedule has a few undesirable games. But what's the most anticipated game on the 2022 Notre Dame schedule? Ohio State. A Big Ten team. No. 2 in the pecking order? Probably USC. A future Big Ten team. Notre Dame has long boasted about a national, coast-to-coast schedule. It can have one with ease in the Big Ten. Imagine the Irish running out onto the picture-per- fect natural grass at the Rose Bowl to play UCLA every few years in addition to the annual trot onto the playing surface at the Los An- geles Coliseum every other year to take on the Trojans. That sounds much more mesmerizing, in a good way, than a trip to the JMA Wireless Dome in Syracuse, N.Y. Don't forget to book your tickets! We've gotten this far without men- tioning Michigan. That's because the magnitude of Michigan and Notre Dame as conference rivals would likely render supporters on either side speechless. It's been a contentious, evenly matched rivalry over the years without a confer- ence binding the two brands that ES- PN's Chris "Mad Dog" Russo recently ranked as the No. 1 and No. 2 storied programs in college football history (with a slight edge to Notre Dame over U-M). Imagine what it would mean for that game to be an annual tradition. South Bend is conveniently situated in the heart of Big Ten country. There are Big Ten schools to the north, south, east and west of Notre Dame. The Irish could instantly become the heartbeat of the conference. Not a lot of schools have that sort of staying power. Notre Dame does. Might as well use it. ✦ GOLDEN GAMUT TYLER HORKA Tyler Horka has been a writer for Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 2021. He can be reached at A move to the Big Ten would allow Notre Dame to take its rivalry with Michigan to a new level. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN Money Aside, Joining The Big Ten Makes Sense For Notre Dame

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